Estate Planning 101

Notifying the California Department of Motor Vehicles After a Loved One’s Passing

September 13, 2023

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In the wake of a loved one's passing, there are numerous tasks that need to be attended to, including notifying various governmental agencies. One such entity is the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which needs to be informed in order to prevent any possible misuse of the deceased's driver's license or vehicle registration.

Who Should Be Notified

If your loved one was a resident of California and held a driver's license or vehicle registration, the California DMV should be notified of their passing. This is essential to cancel their driver's license and prevent identity theft, as well as to transfer or cancel vehicle registration.

When to Notify

You should notify the California DMV as soon as you are able, preferably within a few weeks of the individual's death, to prevent any potential misuse of their identity or vehicle registration.

How to Notify

You can notify the California DMV by filling out the 'Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability' form, which is available online on the DMV's website. This form releases the deceased from future liability related to the vehicle. You'll need the vehicle's license plate number, and the deceased's driver's license number or ID card number.

To cancel the driver's license, you will need to mail a copy of the death certificate to the DMV. The mailing address is: DMV, PO Box 942890, Sacramento, CA 94290-0001.

What to Expect After Notification

Once the California DMV has been notified of the death, they will update their records, cancel the driver's license to prevent identity theft, and process the transfer or cancellation of vehicle registration. If the vehicle is being transferred to a new owner, they will need to complete the registration process.

Tips for Notification

When notifying the DMV, be sure to keep copies of all forms and correspondence for your records. This includes keeping a copy of the completed 'Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability' form, and sending the death certificate via certified mail.

Conclusion

Notifying the California DMV after a loved one's passing is a necessary task to prevent identity theft and handle vehicle registration appropriately. Although it may seem like a small detail in the wake of a loss, it's an important step in settling the deceased's affairs.

FAQ

Q: Can I notify the California DMV online?
A: Yes, you can fill out the 'Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability' form online, but the death certificate must be mailed to the DMV to cancel the driver's license.

Q: What if the vehicle is being transferred to me?
A: If you're inheriting the vehicle, you will need to complete a new vehicle registration and pay the appropriate fees. You should consult the DMV or a legal advisor to understand the process.

Q: What if the deceased had a disabled parking placard?
A: Disabled parking placards should be returned to the DMV within 60 days of the death of the placard holder. This can be done by mailing it to: DMV Placard, PO Box 942869, Sacramento, CA 94269-0001.